China seeks worst heatwave in decades, rivers & reservoirs drying


A scorching heat wave, the worst in decades, sweeping China has dried up rivers and reservoirs, threatened crop yields and forced industries to shut down and ration electricity.

The latest strain on the economy comes at a time when it is already under pressure because of frequent Covid-19-related lockdowns with Beijing sticking to its “zero-Covid” policy and as President Xi Jinping prepares for his third term in power later this year.

“As several regions in China are sweltering under temperatures above 40°C, the country’s meteorological authorities have continued to issue high temperature alerts for 25 consecutive days, and meteorologists believe the summer of 2022 has witnessed the strongest heat wave in six decades,” the state-run Global Times reported.

One of the regions hit badly by the heat wave is China’s southwestern Sichuan province, which has shut down factories for six days to ease a crippling power shortage.

“Let the electricity be used by the people,” the official Sichuan Daily said in a report on why the decision was taken.

The decision to suspend production in Sichuan will impact the “five pillar industries” of the province including information technology, manufacturing, food and beverages, advanced materials, and energy and chemical industries, the news website, thepaper.cn reported.

Sichuan’s heavy dependence on hydropower hasn’t helped as high temperatures and drought this summer have curbed hydropower generation and worsened the power crunch.

“…this year’s high temperatures and drought are the worst on record, and the heat is expected to continue for another week. Water flows into hydropower reservoirs dropped 50% since the start of August compared with average historical levels as the hot weather boosted power demand,” a Sichuan government statement, quoted by news website Caixin, said.

Emergency measures have been introduced in the drought-hit basin of the Yangtze river, the longest in China, where local authorities are carrying out cloud seeding to increase water levels after the levels dropped rapidly in the last few days.

China’s national observatory on Wednesday renewed a red alert for high temperatures, the most severe warning in its four-tier weather warning system, as the sweltering heat wave sweeps many regions, official news agency Xinhua reported.

“During the daytime on Wednesday, parts of Shaanxi, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Fujian, Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Guangxi and Guangdong are expected to experience high temperatures of 35 to 39°C,” the Xinhua report quoted the National Meteorological Centre (NMC) as saying.

“Temperatures in parts of Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang may surpass 40°C,” the NMC said.

“The high temperatures that arrived earlier than normal and lasted longer this year in China could become more common in the years to come as the world continues to heat up,” Chen Lijuan, chief forecaster from the National Climate Centre, told the news agency.

“It is rare that such a strong heat wave affects such a large range of areas,” Chen said.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)